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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Book Review Carnival

Welcome to the 12th Book Review Blog Carnival!

Thank you to everyone who submitted a review for this event - the response was overwhelming and I have so many great reviews to share with you all. To make things easy to peruse (since this is a very long list) I've split the list into genre groups then alphabetized the reviews in each group by title. Let me know if that works well for you or not.

For those who are new to Carnivals, please don't be in shock over the length of this post. Simply browse the titles then click the links to visit those reviews that catch your eye. You can stick to your favorite genre or explore others that are new to you. Carnivals are all about discovering new books and having fun doing it.

More info on the Book Review Carnival can be found at the BRC blog:

And now, the reviews!


*** Children's/Juvenile Books ***

  • ANIMAL TRACKS & SIGNS, by Jinny Johnson - Urban Science Adventures! says " is perfect for animal lovers and junior naturalists of all ages.... I recommend taking it along with you on your outdoor adventures..." What kid wouldn't enjoy exploring with this?!

  • HATTIE BIG SKY, by Kirby Lawson - Hope is the Word loved this book. She says "In addition to being a Newberry Honor book for 2007, this novel is also based on the author's own family history; her great grandmother was the original Hattie who struck out on her own on the Montana prairie as a sixteen year old. Knowing that such stories actually took place made this novel all the richer for me." This was never a book that I wanted to read, but I'm a sucker for books based on someones real-life family history so I'll definitely have to check this one out.

  • SAVVY, by Ingrid Law - Children's Book Reviews and Then Some says "I discovered that the words inside the book are just as dazzlingly, swirlingly, colorfully beautiful as the cover art. [...] You will find yourself totally absorbed by the wet, humid, crackling world that Ingrid Law creates in this book." If you've seen the cover of SAVVY you'll know what an amazing description that really is.

  • SEVEN MILES TO FREEDOM: THE ROBERT SMALLS STORY, by Janet Halfman - Book Dads says this book "is the astonishing true story of Robert Smalls, an African-American who became one of the greatest heroes of the American Civil War." He goes on to say that the "story of Robert Smalls' life ... is not only a story about slavery ... it's a story about how fatherhood can make all of us better men...." It is amazing the lessons we can find in history and in children's books, is it not?
  • THE ARK, THE REED, AND THE FIRE CLOUD, by Jenny Cote - Kiddo and I reviewed this 400+ page book about the animals making their way to Noah's ark.
*** Fiction ***
  • Australian fiction in general - Becoming a Fiction Writer gives brief reviews of four books and says "I thought I'd share some of these recent great reads with you - both for my Aussie readers who have probably heard about these books and those of you in other far flung corners who might enjoy hearing what Australia has to offer."
  • CHANGE OF HEART, by Jodi Picoult - I reviewed this book and I explained in detail all the things that I couldn't stand about it.

  • FUP, by Jim Dodge - The Truth About Lies says that this very short book "is a remarkably laid back little book in that it feels neither rushed nor so crammed full of details there's no room for the story." But the part I found interesting is when he says "Remember The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game, and the original Planet of the Apes? In each there was a major reveleation that you really didn't want to know about before you saw the film and yet were desperate to share afterwards. Fup is like that." Hmm, now I'm really intrigued.

  • LIFE OF PI, by Yann Martel - My Two Blessings says this book "is an oddly fascinating tale that keeps you reading, wandering what is going to happen next." I couldn't agree more.

  • THE BOOK OF NIGHT WOMEN, by Marlon James - Linus's Blanket says "when I began reading Lilith's story I was immediately drawn in and could not put it down. It's a pretty substantial book, yet I was through with it in just a few short days." Those are the best kind of books, ones where you're not worried about the page count because you're so into the story.

  • THE FUGITIVE PIGEON, by Donald E. Westlake - Karen't List of Books says "I do not konw whether Westlake was a fan of P.G. Wodehouse but there is much about thie book that reminds me of Wodehouse. Funny, well paced, with well drawn characters, it is indeed a 'comedy of perils.'" I love Wodehouse so that's a ringing endorsement in my opinion.

  • THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins - Bart's Bookshelf says "The premise initially seems to be a mix of Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies and Big Brother, and yes it is a mix of those things, but is has it's own very clear identity as well. [...] If this book doesn't make my top books of the year list, then I have some bloody good books to read between now and December." I have yet to read a negative review of this book an any blog.
  • WIDEACRE, by Philippa Gregory - Books I Done Read says that according to her rating system this book gets "Six caterpillars for style, but nine for DRAMA! So seven-and-a-half." If you've never read her reviews before you must go check this one out. This gal is hysterical!
*** Mysteries & Thrillers ***

  • A RULE AGAINST MURDER, by Louise Penny - My Random Acts of Reading says "Louise Penny's writing is wonderfully musical, and she has a real gift for keeping the reader hurrying along, while still wanting to savor the words."

  • IN THE WOODS, by Tana French - My Random Acts of Reading says that what "I didn't know was how I would carry this book everywhere and sneak in pages in between tasks, at stoplights, and when I couldn't sleep in the night. It was that absorbing." I've heard that same sentiment echoed on other blogs too!

  • O JERUSALEM, by Laurie R. King - Books and Movies says "In The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes have to lay low for a while.... They accept an assignment from Holmes' brother Mycroft, which sends them to Palestine. [This book] gives us that venture in detail." This one is already on my list to read in March - I can't wait to read it!

  • several Hercule Poirot stories, by Agatha Christie - Mysteries in Paradise gives a unique perspective on several of these stories by "interviewing" Poirot himself. What fun!
  • THE LOW ROAD, by Chris Womersley - Mysteries in Paradise says "Wild, a doctor de-registered because of his morphine addiction, cast out by his wife, and on the run from the law, checks into a dingy motel on the fringe of the city." Aah, a great start to the story!

  • THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN, by Agatha Christie - Mysteries in Paradise says "There are plenty of red herrings, a further fleshing out of the character of Poirot as a person that young women find attractive, and puzzles to keep the brain engaged." Ah, Poirot, you gotta love him.

  • THE SKY TOOK HIM, by Donis Casey - My Random Acts of Reading says this book "is the fourth book in Donis Casey's historical mystery series" set in early 20th century Oklahoma.
  • THE THREE MISTAKES OF MY LIFE, by Cheten Bhagat - Book Reviews says this book is almost identical to the author's other books. He goes on to say "If I don't compare this novel with [his] earlier works. Then I am really impressed with this book. It has friendship, love, business, cricket, religion, riots, and ya happy ending, everything a bollywood movie demands."

  • THE UNEARTHED, by Brian O'Rourke - About this paranormal thriller Books Books and More Books says "I'd really hate to post any spoilers ... but let me tell you, this book is spectacularly written."
*** Sci-Fi & Fantasy ***

  • ANIMAL FARM, by George Orwell - Ms. Smarty Pants Know It All says "
    Even though Orwell was commenting specifically on socialism-communisim within the Soviet Union and on their influences on the West, my modern mindset allows me to apply the events of the book to a number of contemporary issues" which she goes on to do.

  • HOPE'S FOLLY, by Linnea Sinclair - Book Calendar says "This book is what Star Trek might be if it included hot sex, and more violent political intrigue. Including this adds spice where most space operas don't have it. This is the major reason I like her stories so much." Woohoo! Sounds like fun.

  • LOOK TO WINDWARD, by Iain M. Banks - True Science Fiction says "add in some awesome AIs, a variety of interesting alien species and world settings, and a load of metaphysics (Sublimed beings - they sound a lot like ascended beings from Stargate, but without all the rules), and you have the makings of a killer sci fi story." Unfortunately True Science Fiction goes on to say that the author "isn't jumping to the top of my book pile."

  • OLD MAN'S WAR, by John Scalzi - Things Mean A Lot says it "is a funny and action-filled military sci-fi story. But it’s really just as funny as it is serious and sad. It's about fighting, yes, but doesn’t glorify war. Nor does it do the opposite ..." I've been hearing lots about this book lately, and it has all been good.

  • THE ABRAXAS, by Cinsearae Santiago - Books Books and More Books says this is "more interesting than just a typical vampire story ... The plot ... kept getting thicker and thicker, when you thought they were through with the fighting - you turned the page and you were wrong!"

  • THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, by Jonathan Stroud - Gabriel Gadfly says that this young adult book is "action-packed book, and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat. [...] The ending is satisfying but leaves plenty of loose ends unresolved. As it is, I'm dying to read the second book in the trilogy."
*** Poetry ***

*** Memoir ***

  • HONEYMOON IN TEHRAN, by Azadeh Moaveni - The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness says "not long after I began reading Honeymoon in Tehran, I ran across a copy of Azadeh Moaveni's earlier memoir, Lipstick Jihad, in a bookstore, and bought it with no hesitation - I already knew I was going to want more of her story."

  • ROAD TO QUOZ: AN AMERICAN MOSEY, by William Least Heat Moon - I'll Never Forget the Day I Read the Book calls this "the millennial era's answer to Charles Kuralt." He goes to add "Suffice it to say that he likes odd and interesting stuff, especially if it's old. He is able to tease a story out of each discovery." Plus there is some sort of fascination with the letter Q ...
*** Non-Fiction ***
  • ACCELERATED DISTANCE LEARNING, by Brad Voeller - Debt Free College says this is "is an excellent road map, helping you to your degree."
  • AFRICAN DIARIES: SKETCHES & OBSERVATIONS, by David G. Derrick, Jr. - Grrl Scientist says "This slim paperback is an unusual travel diary because it is comprised of more than 140 of hand-drawn pictures of people and animals, along with accompanying photographs and hand0written notes, all created while the author was traveling through Kenya, Africa. ... Even though this is a paperback, it is printed on heavy paper and the images are of high enough quality that you can actually see the grain of the paper upon which the sketches and paintings were originally created." She posts samples of the artwork in her review as well.
  • BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS: THE SMART BITCHES GUIDE TO ROMANCE NOVELS, by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan - Love, Romance, Passion says that this book is "the ultimate end all be all guide for romances. You won’t be able to talk about romance again without using this book because they’ve covered it all: lead types, plot tropes, standard clich├ęs, wtf moments, sex, and HEAs." And what's more, this guide "will definitely bring tears of laughter to your eyes as well as enlighten readers to why women love to read romances." After that review I really want to read this book ... and I'm not even romance reader! (And now I'm curious as to what an HEA is - can anybody help?)

  • EXTRAORDINARY KNOWING, by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer - Science on Tap says "This is a book about ... knowing things without understanding how we know them. ... [The author collected] stories/anecdotes from her medical colleagues of odd, inexplicable experiences of 'knowing' things at a distance or ahead of time." The book also covers the "strange history of paranormal research." Even though I'm not into paranormal anything, I found this review fascinating and will definitely consider reading this book.

  • GORGEOUSLY GREEN: 8 SIMPLE STEPS TO AN EARTH-FRIENDLY LIFE, by Sophie Uliano - Less is More says "If you are looking for ways to become greener, the book is worth looking throuh, however think of the products it suggests as future alternatives rather than immediate needs."

  • HUNGER: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY, by Sharman Apt Russell - Rebecca Reads says the author "details what it means, physiologically, to be hungry. Then she goes beyond the science of hunger and into social aspects by reviewing the history of how we learned to help starving people recover and the various current worldwide issues surrounding hunger." This book sounds horrifying. Fascinating, but horrifying.

  • MARTHA STEWART'S COOKIES, cookbook - Less is More says "I haven't baked anything out of this book yet but if it's half as good as EVERDAY FOOD: GREAT FOOD FAST then it'll be a hit." Is it odd that a cookbook follows a book on hunger when I alphabetized this list?

  • PRAIRIE SPRING: JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF A SEASON, by Peter Dunne - The Birder's Library says the author "chronicles a spring that he and his wife spent on America's grasslands. ... Birds, of course, figure prominently into the account ... however ... it does not focus exclusively on birds. It encompasses the entire ecology, and even history, of the American prairie." An amazing place, to be sure, and one I've always wanted to visit.

  • THE EMPEROR'S EMBRACE: REFLECTIONS ON ANIMAL FAMILIES AND FATHERHOOD, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson - Book Dads says "is quite simply the seminal and definitive guide to animal fatherhood. ... [It] puts the lie to the idea that mothers are inherently more suited to care for children than fathers due to some kind of biological destiny, and will make any man proud to count himself part of a fraternity of fatherhood that extends not only to other humans but to our animals cousins as well." This book sounds fascinating to me. It may end up on my TBR list soon.

  • THE LOST CITY OF Z: A TALE OF DEADLY OBSESSION IN THE AMAZON, by David Grann - At Home With Books says it "is such a riveting story, that it is easy at first to mistake this nonfiction book for a novel. In the preface you are thrust right into the action as the author reveals that he is lost in the Amazon, giving you a taste of what is to come." This reminds me of that Discovery Channel Show "I Shouldn't Be Alive" ... the same show that almost gives me nightmares but that I continue watching anyway.

  • THE SCIENCE OF PARENTING, by Margot Sunderland - Babylicious says "For any person who truly desires to raise their child in a manner that will offer that child the best skills for happiness, emotional well-being and success in life, this is the book for you."
  • SOUIXSIE AND THE BANSHEES: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY, by Shirley Manson - Quillotine says "if perhaps you prefer salacious rumour peppered with hideous cliches of the rock and roll trade please leave this book on the shelf. if so stay at home. this is one for the scholars of rock. open your moleskin. reach for your quill. take notes."
*** Business & Finance ***
  • BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mouborgne - Smarter Wallet says this book shows "an approach designed to tackle a market where you have absolutely no competition, where you can become a pioneer in the industry."

  • CAREER RENEGADE: HOW TO MAKE A GREAT LIVING DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, by Jonathan Fields - Bargaineering says "The introduction is eleven pages. The next time you're in a bookstore, look for the book and read those eleven pages. ... It explains exactly what the book is about, without and salesmanship or BS. ... After you're done reading the introduction you will know whether or not this book is for you."

  • MADE TO STICK, by Chip & Dan Heath - Learn This says "while the book might seem from the topic to fit only the presenting, marketing or sales type of roles and personalities, it is certainly not limited to those groups of people. It is an entertaining book that will enable anyone to share their ideas more effectively."

  • PLUNDER: INVESTIGATING OUR ECONOMIC CALAMITY AND THE SUBPRIME SCANDAL, by Danny Schechter - Blog Business World says if you read this book "you will gain a greater understanding of the origins of the subprime meltdown that led to the current finanical crisis. This economic knowledge could very well save your bank account, your investments, and your home." Very strong words, and a ringing endorsement of this book.

  • POOR CHARLIE'S ALMANAC, by Peter D. Kaufman - GeekMBA360 says "I think it is one of the greatest investment books of our time."

  • THE FRUGAL MILLIONAIRES, by Jeff Lehman - Bargaineering says "What I expected to find were some tips that would help me save tens or hundreds of dollars ... which would be well worth my time to read!" Did the book live up to those expectations? Read the review to find out.

  • WORDPRESS FOR BUSINESS BLOGGING, by Paul Thewlis - Search for Blogging says "Whether you already have a blog, or are still in the planning stages, this book can show you how to use WordPress to create a highly successful blog for your business."

If you made it all the way through the list, congratulations! I hope you found something to interest you in the myriad titles above. Post a comment and let me know if any of the books made it on to your TBR list. You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine ...


    Ana S. said...

    Great job, Heather! I really like the way you organized it. I still have to read the posts more carefully, but the Jonathan Stroud book really sounds like something I need to read.

    Anonymous said...

    Great collection of books and reviews. The organized categories is very useful, yes. Seems to be an endless stack of books not only on my table to read, but in the reading list once I get through them. Thanks for the reviews and everyone for the recommendations.

    Alyce said...

    You did a wonderful job with this carnival! I will have to spend some more time later today going through the reviews.

    Linnea Sinclair said...

    Thanks for including HOPE'S FOLLY in your list! It's a fun book--at least, it was a great deal of fun to write. The main character, Philip Guthrie, first appeared in my GABRIEL'S GHOST (2006 RITA award winner) and again in the sequel, SHADES OF DARK (2008 PEARL award winner). You don't need to read both to enjoy FOLLY...but it would likely make it a bit better. :-) ~Linnea

    Robin M said...

    Wonderful job Heather. I like how you highlighted each book. Will be back to peruse a while and check out the links.

    Kerrie said...

    Well done Heather

    raych said...

    Wheeeeeeeeeee, more books!

    Thanks for including my review, even though I waited until the LAST MINUTE to get it in. You are a saint.

    Also, you are hilarious. I hate everything you hated about Change of Heart, and I haven't even read it. NO MORE SUPERFLUOUS LOVE STORYS, JP!!

    Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

    Thanks for all the comments. :) Although it was a LOT of work to put this post together, I really did enjoy reading the reviews and visiting all the new-t0-me blogs.

    I promised to tell you which books made it onto my TBR list so here they are ...

    Hattie Big Sky
    Seven Miles to Freedom (for kiddo)
    African Diaries
    Extraordinary Knowing
    The Emperor's Embrace
    The Lost City of Z
    and maybe Old Man's War

    Anonymous said...

    hai..your review is completed.
    just dropped here.btw,your blog has many great content.

    Journey Home said...

    Good stuff,
    Sorry "Journey Home" isn't up there in the fiction section. Maybe next time.


    Anonymous said...

    thanks so much for including my little write-up of westlake's "the fugitive pigeon."

    if you haven't read westlake, you're missing a lot!

    i just got done posting very brief reviews of a whole bunch of books grouped by author's name. if you're looking for something to read (or avoid) check it out. (the categories are still kind of a work in progress but it's not bad.)

    i look forward to looking more closely at the books reviewed here because there are too many books and not enough time to be wasting it reading the bad stuff when i could be reading the good stuff.

    thanks again for hosting the party!

    Kathleen said...

    Thanks for making a great carnival, it wasn't that long!

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